Housing density intensification

Curb urban sprawl

In my fourth year of university, I took a class about cities. I didn’t get off on the right foot with my professor because he said Toronto is the best city in the world. Clearly, I did not think the same. 

Subdivisions are going up in many places in Wellington County, and the initial reaction is to criticize the new places as city-like subdivisions.

The buildings are close together, much closer than our neighbourhoods that were developed in the ‘60s to ‘90s. Some may blame the township for allowing these dwellings that don’t fit the mould of the surrounding area.

We’ve heard it all before: keep small towns small. But really, it’s out of the town’s hands.

The province dictates the population density targets for the county. The province’s growth plan prioritizes “intensification and higher densities to make efficient use of land and infrastructure.”

While people are crying foul, we should stop to think of how this might help our society.

Urban sprawl, according to the province, can degrade air quality, water resources and the natural environment, as well as the one thing we care greatly about out here: agricultural land.

The higher intensity in town means more farmland available to allow farmers to keep doing what they do best.

There is a finite supply of prime agricultural land, and we should be considering the impact development has on it.

– Olivia


Keep the rural feel

One of the greatest things about living in rural Ontario is space. Space to park four cars in the driveway, space to drive a riding lawnmower between houses and have room to spare and space to have a garden the size of some city lots.

But with the Government of Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, rural municipalities in Wellington County are feeling the pinch to put more houses on smaller and smaller lots.

They call it prioritizing intensification and higher densities.

In some cases this means taking a single lot and severing it into five new lots, like a proposal for an Ariss property at the last Guelph-Eramosa council meeting.

While intensification is all well and good and it does make sense to preserve farmland it also begs the question: what’s going to set rural villages apart from jammed-in urban centres if we no longer have the space argument?

Imagine living in the same home for say 30-plus years, you know your neighbours, they know you, you’re used to privacy. Then out of nowhere one of those neighbours sells their lot and the new owner decides to knock the house down so they can put in two. There goes privacy, there goes space between lots, there goes the rural feel.

I get intensification in new builds. In that case, buyers know what they’re in for.

But maybe we can leave the pre-existing lots alone in an attempt to maintain the fabric and character of our rural communities.

– Jaime

Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik